A basic guide to start your illustration journey

It has been quite a while since I started creating illustrations, and digital drawings. It was back in 2012 when I tried one, though I was just in the learning phase.

It has been one of my hobbies, along with photo manipulations in photoshop. I mostly enjoy creating animes or digital drawing of people.

This is one of my first illustrations:


Every time I post a new illustration, many of my friends request me to teach them how to make one or even make one for them. So I wanted to share basics about how you can start creating some fancy digital drawings yourself.

Before giving some ideas, I assume that you at least know the basics of using some tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, that you will work on. I particularly use Illustrator as it allows making vector images.

So, here are few things that might help you to start your illustration journey:

1. Watch tutorials

Having an interest in making digital drawing is one thing, but you will need to learn how to use different tools and features. I recommend using Adobe Illustrator as it is quite simple and easy to learn. Watch videos on youtube or get enrolled in a course if you are so much interested.

2. Practice by making shapes

Before you start working on a real project, practice by making different shapes on the software. Making digital art is all about using different shapes. Use the options available in the tools palette such as a rectangle, rounded, etc. and combine them into shapes.

The most important tool is the pen tool because you will need to use it most of the times. Make yourself comfortable with it by making different shapes, like a flower, house, tree, etc.

3. Take Reference from Internet

Never hesitate to take help online. It is likely that what you are trying to create is already uploaded by someone else. Search with proper keywords on google as well as designers specific sites like Dribbble, Behance, etc. Take ideas from there and try to revamp the concept using your own creativity.

4. Draw on a paper

If you want to create something new or pour your imagination into the artboard, it is necessary that you draw it on the paper first. It gives you an idea about your final product and helps you to outline the picture you are thinking of. But don’t worry, the drawings do not need to be perfect, although it should reflect what you want to create.

5. Start working

Once you have determined what to make, and have a prototype ready, open it in the software and start your work. Even if you want to create without any reference, just give it a try, no problem. This is the time when your practice of making shapes will come handy.

Choose appropriate fill and stroke colors in the tools palette and make outlines outside of your reference. Illustrator will automatically fill the color once the path is completed. After making different shapes, you will need to arrange the layers to move them below or above. In Illustrator, right-click the layer you want to move, click Arrange, then choose the option you want.

Process to arrange layers

After you create few elements, you will get an idea and will be a lot easier to continue.

Tip: Learn keyboard shortcuts to perform different actions. It will make your work much faster. To see shortcuts from the official Adobe Illustrator website, Click Here.

6. Choose colors wisely

Choosing a suitable color is one of the problems of a lot of people. Even I get confused many times about which colors might suit the design. Coolers is a website where you can choose colors from a huge number of shades of different colors.


I have seen people heavily using gradients to make things beautiful. But I recommend you to use gradients only if it is extremely necessary. Gradients do look beautiful if good color choices are made.

7. Give an extra effort on details

The more you work on details, the more beautiful your art will become. Details like using shadows, lightings, designs in clothes, etc. will make your work look cooler. People also use textures in and around pictures to make them look more appealing.


8. Share your work online

After you finish your work, don’t keep it to yourself. Spread your work. You will get feedback and suggestions from a lot of different people. Those feedback will help you to improve your skills and create new masterpieces. ;)

I hope this article will help you to start your journey with illustrations. If you really want to start, don’t wait for tomorrow, start practicing from today. And don’t forget to send me links to your works, I would love to see them.

Here are the links to my profiles:

Behance | Dribbble | Twitter